Friday, November 1, 2002

She claims racism, is arrested

Covington police accuse woman of threatening

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - Less than three weeks after federal civil-rights violations involving a Covington family were unsealed, another African-American family alleges their white neighbor is harassing them because of the color of their skin.

Ms. Spiller
Angela S. Spiller said Covington police have done nothing to curb the alleged racial discrimination, adding that she was even arrested after she tried to get police to take action. Covington police counter by saying Ms. Spiller has acted in an enraged and irrational manner, cursing at officers and threatening people.

Kenton County court records show the 32-year-old woman was arrested Monday at her home in the 400 block of West 16th Street on the misdemeanor charge of terrorist threatening after she called police to report racial harassment.

She pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Thursday. Ms. Spiller is out of jail after posting 10 percent of a $2,000 bond.

"To arrest the mother of a 4-year-old child that has just been assaulted, and do nothing about the assault ... is outrageous and preposterous," said Ms. Spiller's attorney, Alvertis Bishop of Cincinnati. "From what I know so far, I believe this case was terribly mishandled by officers on the scene."

Mr. Bishop said the incident that led to his client's arrest started Monday evening with a dispute among children at a neighborhood park playground. He said Ms. Spiller's child and a niece, both 4, were assaulted in the playground.

He said the parents of the older children allegedly beating up on Ms. Spiller's child and niece were being egged on by their parents with racial epithets.

The children who were allegedly attacking Ms. Spiller's kids live about two blocks away and range in ages from 8 to 11, Mr. Bishop said. A check at the Kenton County courthouse found no criminal charges filed against the children or parents.

Later that evening, Ms. Spiller called police wanting the name of the children so she could file a complaint, said Covington Police Lt. Col. Jim Liles.

Ms. Spiller became irate because officers responded to her call told her they could not order the other family not to use the park, according to a police report.

At that point, according to a report filed by the responding officer, Ms. Spiller started making threats against the parents and children she accused of assaulting her child. The officer wrote he warned Ms. Spiller to stop making threats three times.

Police arrested her on a single terrorist threatening charge after she allegedly said: "If they come back down here they won't ever come down here again."

Lt. Col. Liles said Ms. Spiller has not acted in a responsible and mature way in her dealing with police.

"She has called up here and we can't deal with her," he said. "She uses obscenities and calls people names. We can't deal with people like that until they calm down and become rational."

He disputes her claim that police are not doing their job, noting that officers responded to Ms. Spiller's call.

Lt. Col. Liles said because the incident in the park involved young children, both Ms. Spiller and the family she is feuding with have been advised to file a complaint with the Kenton County Attorney's office. In Kentucky, juvenile crimes are prosecuted by the county attorney.

That's apparently what the parents of the children Ms. Spiller alleges assaulted and harassed her family have done.

Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson said a neighbor of Ms. Spiller filed a complaint against her on Tuesday. Mr. Edmondson said he couldn't get into the specifics of the complaint, but that his office is looking for anyone who have might of witnessed the specific incident the neighbor complained about. Mr. Edmondson's office could file a criminal complaint in Kenton District Court if his office finds probable cause for the alleged crime.

In a separate case, in a federal indictment unsealed less than three weeks ago, a white family was charged with federal civil rights violations for allegedly harassing their former African-American neighbors.

In that case, the white family and two of their acquaintances allegedly used racial slurs, Nazi salutes and threats to drive their African-American neighbors from a home on Locust Street.

Covington police records show about 20 police visits to, or in the vicinity of, the home of the white family facing the federal charges during the time the African-American family lived next door. The family members charged face a maximum 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.


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